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Player Ratings: Arsenal V Barcelona
Andy (Rangers) 4 years ago
Arsenal today showed a glimpse of what may be the only way to break down this peerless, free-flowing Barcelona side.

Defending tirelessly until the later stages of the game and then capitalising on weary Barcelona full-backs by utilising pacey wingers.

Barcelona mauled Arsenal for the best part of the first half and dominated overall statistics, if it wasn’t for an inspired Manuel Almunia we may have seen the tie all wrapped up within 25 minutes.

Arsenal fans will be understandably delighted with this result while Barcelona fans may be left feeling bitter given their side’s dominance. A thrilling exhibition for the neutrals though, who have Theo Walcott to thank for setting up a gem of a second-leg at the Nou Camp.


Arsenal

Almunia – 8. 0
Arsenal’s man of the match, single-handedly keeping the club in the tie with a number of fabulous saves in the first half. An otherwise brilliant performance was blemished by a poor decision to come forward in the second-half, allowing Ibrahimovic to put the visitors ahead.

Sagna - 7. 0 (Walcott '66)
Dealt with Maxwell competently yet rarely utilized his undoubted pace. A lethargic performance sharply contrasted by team-mate Clichy.

Vermaelen – 6. 5
Kept close to Messi for the full 90 minutes although in doing so he created space for Ibrahimovic to latch onto through balls for both goals.

Gallas - 7. 0 (Denilson '44)
Gave a physical performance in the first-half before limping off, being replaced by Denilson. Was kept busy by Ibrahimovic yet he rarely let the striker get his better side.

Clichy – 7. 5
Was pressured by a high-flying Alves throughout the match although the left-back responded brilliantly, powering the few Arsenal attacks there were in the first-half.

Diaby – 6. 5
Was largely anonymous and was often let down by a poor touches and a number of reckless challenges, deservedly picking up a yellow card.

Fabregas – 5. 5
The Arsenal captain looked sluggish and unfit for the majority of the match, made a foolish tackle and received a yellow card, meaning he will miss the second leg. Scored an excellent penalty, the only positive amidst an uncharacteristically poor performance.

Nasri – 7. 5
Nasri was one of the few inventive Arsenal players in the first-half, narrowly missing out on breaking the deadlock after dispatching a curling shot towards goal. Was assured on the ball, making a number of key passes yet he seemed to fade as the match went on.

Song - 7. 5
A mixed performance from the Arsenal midfielder-cum-defender, brought the ball forward well in the first-half while in midfield although was tormented by Ibrahimovic after he filled in for Gallas in defence.

Arshavin - 5. 0 (Eboue '27)
Arshavin had little time to make an impact before picking up an injury in the 27th minute, being replaced by Eboue. The Russian winger never really got going and defended lazily when called upon.

Bendtner – 7. 0
Although Bendtner failed to score, he had an industrious night and proved a focal point for a great deal of Arsenal attacks. He whipped in an excellent cross after skipping past Maxwell yet he squandered a great chance soon after, heading straight at Valdes.

Substitutes

Eboue – 7. 5
Had a good game, he made a crucial block and fed Walcott well in the latter stages.

Denilson – 7. 0
Replaced Gallas late on in the first-half and assumed Alex Song’s role in midfield. The young Brazilian had an average game, providing an effective link between defence and attack.

Walcott – 8. 0
Proved the difference between the two sides and became the main focus of Arsenal’s attack, exploiting a tired Maxwell to slip the ball under Valdes, mounting Arsenal’s comeback. Blistering pace was complimented by accurate passing in a great display.



Barcelona

Valdes – 6. 0
The Barcelona keeper had virtually nothing to do apart from Arsenal’s two goals. He allowed Walcott’s shot to slip under him and was helpless as Fabregas smashed home his penalty.

Alves – 7. 5
Unsurprisingly, Dani Alves was one of the main outlets of the Barcelona attack, he flew down the touchline and made a number of adventurous passes.

Pique – 7. 0
Was out-jumped by Bendtner leading up to the penalty and received a booking, ruling him out of the second-leg at the Nou Camp.

Puyol – 6. 0
Contained Bendtner and brought the ball forward expertly yet his momentary lapse of concentration led to a clumsy challenge, gifting Arsenal a penalty. Will also miss the second-leg and will be a major blow for Barcelona.

Maxwell – 7. 5
Like Alves, Maxell provided width for Barcelona in their attacks, overlapping and getting behind the Arsenal defence. He allowed Walcott to get his better side and start the Arsenal comeback, a small blemish in an otherwise sound showing.

Xavi – 8. 5
In brilliant form, Xavi bossed the midfield, pulling the strings and providing fabulous passes in an all too familiar performance. He kept Barcelona ticking and showed why he is considered the best midfielder in the world. Almunia denied Xavi an opener after he followed up a parried shot from Ibrahimovic.

Keita – 7. 5
Brought the ball forward well and defended when he had to, often helped stunt any Arsenal attacks.

Busquets - 8. 0
Busquets dictated the tempo of the game along with Xavi and really ran the show from midfield. Imaginative going forward and efficient in cleaning up at the back, Busquets gave a brilliant performance.

Messi – 7. 0
All focus was placed on Barca’s Argentine starlet approaching this clash and in truth; he failed to live up to his high standards. Shadowed Ibrahimovic and caused Song problems from the start, having an early shot saved by Almunia. Messi faded as the match progressed and was eventually replaced by Milito who plugged the hole left by Puyol.

Ibrahimovic – 9. 0 (Man of the Match) (Henry '77)
Ibrahimovic has been criticized in the past for not showing up when playing English sides yet this certainly wasn’t the case tonight. The formidable striker showed great composure tonight with two expertly taken goals. He missed a number of chances in the first-half but Ibrahimovic left his mark on the game in the second-half before making way for Henry.

Pedro – 7. 0
Pedro applied constant pressure throughout the match in an industrious showing although his delivery was poor and he let Clichy get past him on a number of occasions.

Substitutes

Henry - 6. 5
Made a cameo appearance to the applause of the Emirates Stadium. Henry had few touches of the ball and when he did, he held the ball up well.

Milito - 6. 5
Replaced Messi in the 86th minute and saw very little of the game
Crissyronaldo (Manchester United) 4 years ago
I don't know about Zlatan, but I do notice he always has a knack for missing good chances and scoring ridiculous goals. Maybe he just loves the spectacular :/ But anyway, well played to Arsenal for fighting all the way, it's a big blow to them to lose fabregas for the rest of the season though. MoM imo would be Xavi for his fantastic passing and ability to control the game
Jeroen (Barcelona) 4 years ago
I've got a pretty different view on this Andy. My ratings:

Arsenal:

Almunia: 8
Did great the first half. The barrage of shots he stopped showed he -can- be a quality goalie, especially when he needs to rely on his reflexes.
Sagna: 5. 5
Couldn't really cope with the dominance of Barcelona's forwards in the beginning, gradually got better though and put in some good crosses. Replaced by Walcott in the 2nd half.
Gallas: 5
Partially to blame for allowing Barcelona to play their best game. Looked dazzled and confused until he limped off before the first half ended.
Vermaelen: 6
Not his best game, but at least he was aggressive in defence and tried to disrupt Barça's play although it looked like a cat-and-mouse chase.
Clichy: 7
Best Arsenal defender tonight as he managed not to smother Messi but at least keep him from scoring. His runs up the field were similar to Walcott's: great pace, diving into the gaps and with great effect.
Song: 5. 5
Also couldn't match the dominance of Barcelona, but worked hard and made a goal-line clearance to keep the Blaugrana frustrated. Did let Ibrahimovic go a few times and twice it resulted in a goal. Obvious tonight he's no central defender.
Diaby: 5
Went in hard and poorly timed so often he should've been sent off. But at least managed to also make a crucial clearance which is the only reason he still has a 5.
Fabregas: 7. 5
Despite being hurt still played, and did his part very well considering the circumstances. Didn't do much defensively (except for picking up yellow after hacking down Busquets), but the second half performance by Arsenal was largely thanks to him. Fouled(?) by Puyol and took the penalty well before having to limp the remainder of the game with a possibly broken leg.
Nasri: 6. 5
Good first half performance. Showed his skill and nearly scored too. Did his job in the Walcott goal in the 2nd half. Overall not the best of games, but he was better than most of his teammates.
Arshavin: 4
Although he was subbed for an injury after just 25 minutes, Wenger might as well have subbed him for playing pretty dreadfully. A yellow for a vicious tackle was the only thing that was worthy of zooming in on him.
Bendtner: 7
Did his best and although his header from point-blank range could have been better, Valdes was to praise for an excellent reflex. Tried hard throughout the game and also assisted Walcott's first goal.

Subs:

Eboué: 6
Quickly showed he's as good or better than Arshavin and was far more reliable. Good passes too.
Denilson: 5. 5
Fairly unnoticeable throughout the game. Very mediocre.
Walcott: 8
Arsenal's best offensive player tonight, with a few ferocious runs on the right that left the otherwise also fast Maxwell behind. Scored the goal that lifted the Gunners' spirits.

----------

Barça:

Valdes: 7
Did well despite having little to do. Dominated his area in the air and made a great save from Bendtner's header.
Alves: 7
Trademark performance tonight as he was instrumental in offence but left big gaps in defence. Can't be everywhere at the same time of course. Crosses were good tonight and some sharp tackling too.
Puyol: 7. 5
Reliable as always in the back: he was excellent, was always there when needed and made several good clearances. He makes defending look easy.
The red card for what was a light foul on Cesc Fabregas was exaggerated to say the least.
Piqué: 7
Also a good performance from the other blaugrana central defender. Provided a long ball forward to set up Ibra's first goal of the evening but was booked in the 2nd half so he'll miss the game next week.
Maxwell: 6. 5
Good first half display, but obviously lacked the energy to cope with the explosiveness of Theo Walcott in the 2nd half. Made several good forward runs and passes that contributed to Barcelona's first half threat from all sides.
Busquets: 7
Sergio did well tonight, working hard as usual and didn't miss any easy passes. Was brave and confident in midfield and was hacked down by Fabregas as a result.
Xavi: 8. 5
One of Xavi's best performances of the season. He was critical as usual and looked so confident and composed it was as if he was facing a bunch of school boys. His great passing skill was one of the main attractions tonight as he perfectly displayed a variety of passes that lead to many good chances.
Keita: 6. 5
A solid though not very noticeable appearance. Seydou replaced Iniesta and couldn't replace his great skill, but did the basics and provided strength and energy on the left flank.
Pedro: 7
Brought some beautiful football in the first half, linking up the midfield to the attack well. Some quality dribbles and held up the ball on a few occasions before swinging it to Ibra or Messi.
Messi: 7
Not the killer live-wire he can be tonight, thanks to a good Clichy performance, but still very much part of a deadly team that can play the ball around like no other. Made some good runs and linked up well with Xavi and Ibra as usual. On a lesser note: blasted a good chance high over the bar from outside the box, something we're not used to from him.
Ibrahimovic: 8. 5
Missed a good chance, but scored two great goals. One lob that broke the deadlock and a great strike in the near top corner, just seconds after the second half had commenced. Great to see he's reaching his best level in an important and difficult game as this one.

Subs:

Henry: 5
Although the Arsenal fans will have been happy to see Henry return to London, they probably will have been even happier to see him replace the man of the match Ibrahimovic. Struggled and lost possession every time he touched the ball.
Milito: Barely involved, so no rating. Hope he does well next week, where he'll surely be an integral part of a weakened defence
Aliko (Barcelona) 4 years ago
Nice rating!
Docdre99 (Barcelona) 4 years ago
Arsenal :

Almunia – 8. 0
I have never seen played Almunia like that !

Sagna - 6. 0 (Walcott '66)


Vermaelen – 6. 5

Good match but not happy on the 2nd goal of barça !

Gallas - 6 (Denilson '44)

Unhappy but he did a good match before being injuried

Clichy – 7. 0

He resist well agains alves and messi

Diaby – 6. 5

Fabregas – 5. 0
Eaten by busquets and xavi !

Nasri – 7. 0
The best player of gunner yesterday !

Song - 6, 5
Good in the middle ! Not so good in defence ! He had forgotten ibra on the 2 goals !

Arshavin - 5. 0 (Eboue '27)
Ovni on this match !

Bendtner – 6. 5
Good match !


Valdes: 7, 5
3 greats saves !

Alves: 6. 0
Good offensively, but not so good defensively !

Puyol: 7. 5
Simply the best !

Piqué: 7
Very good !

Maxwell: 5, 5
Guilty on the 1st goal !

Busquets: 7, 5
Very good match !

Xavi: 8. 0
The best plyer on the ground !

Keita: 6. 0
Good a the beginning but not so good in 2nd half !

Pedro: 5, 5
Not really good but very active !

Messi: 5. 0
The deception of the match !

Ibrahimovic: 8. 0
Not lucky on 1st half ! But really good on 2nd half and 2 goals ! The 1st is very sweet !


ODoyle8D (Barcelona) 4 years ago
Puyol's red card was stupid. Terrible call
RePuLsE (Chelsea) 4 years ago
I'd say before subbing Gallas, Song was the only presence capable of giving a hard time to the Barca midfielders, even though 1st half was all barca. But Song definitely scored higher in my book.

But the mom goes to almunia, ibrahimovic (2nd half) and gamechanger wallcot imo
Jdwallace14 (Arsenal) 4 years ago
I was thinking for the longest time, "We have no speed on our wings. Even when we penetrate into their half, who has the ball usually gets dispossessed and burned. " Lo and behold, Wenger subbed in Theo and boy did it become a match.

Fabregas deserves praise for his 2nd half performance for sure. I saw him as the only one running to defend on several occasions
Manutdkakashi (Manchester United) 4 years ago
Yup they both made their contribution. But the best man for (and maybe the worst if you want to be too harsh) Arsenal was Almunia. That guy is scary sometimes. Also Ibra showed good stuff. We should have that guy in Premiership (Man Utd ). Fun to watch game
Soccerdude199 (Chelsea) 4 years ago
Nice list but Almunia was saving everything that came his way. Rate him 9. 0. He only made 1 little tiny mistake. And I know beacause I'm a goalkeeper that its hard
Millzallah (Barcelona) 4 years ago
Very nice post. In my eyes almunia was the man of the match lol. Its gonna' be a micheal jackson thriller in camp nou that's for sure. Theo will be key for arsenal. As for barcelona I don't need to say much. Ya'll already know what we can do you.... Good luck and may the best team win...



   
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